Zucchini agrodolce

This way of serving vegetables in a sweet-and-sour sauce comes from Sicily, in the south of Italy.  This dish can be enjoyed on its own, as here, or served alongside grilled fish.

Season:  Summer, Autumn

Type:  Big dishes

Difficulty:  Easy

Serves:  6 at home or 12 tastes in the classroom

Fresh from the garden:  basil, zucchini, onions, garlic, celery

 Recipe source: Adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids


  • metric measuring spoons & cups
  • chopping boards & non-slip mats
  • knives, 1 small, 1 large
  • slotted spoon
  • large non-stick frying pan & lid
  • 7 small bowls
  • tea towel
  • olive piper
  • tongs
  • wooden spoon
  • serving plates

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (or pinenuts)
  • 3-4 basil leaves
  • 6 small zucchini
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 50 g feta
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 6 large green olives
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup red-wine vinegar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
What to do

  • Set out your equipment and ingredients.

Toast the sunflower seeds (or pinenuts)

  • Heat the frying pan and toast the seeds (or nuts) over medium heat.  When golden, scoop out with the slotted spoon and set aside.

Prepare the ingredients

  • Set out the chopping boards and knives.  Slice the zucchini into rounds 5 mm thick.  As you prepare the following ingredients place them in small bowls and set aside.  Rinse the basil leaves, dry by rolling in the tea towel, then tear into pieces.
  • Peel the onion halve it from top to bottom, turn the cut side down and cut into fine half circles.
  • Peel and chop the garlic.
  • Crumble the feta.
  • Chop the celery into 5 mm (very fine) slices.
  • Use the olive piper to remove the pip from the olives.  Chop the stoned olives into several pieces.

Cook the zucchini

  • Heat half the remaining oil in the frying pan over medium heat.  Fry the zucchini, cut side down, for about 5 minutes – the cut side should be a rich brown colour.  Using the tongs fry for 2 minutes on the other side.  Remove the zucchini to the dinner plate.
  • Cook the other vegetables
  • Add the onion and garlic to the pan and fry, stirring with the wooden spoon, until soft – add a few more drops of oil during cooking, if necessary.
  • Add the tomato paste, celery and sultanas and cook gently for 5 minutes.  Add the olives and stir to mix well.  Return the zucchini to the pan, cut side up.
  • Increase the heat.  Scatter in the sugar, followed by the vinegar, and shake the pan to mix.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Uncover and taste for salt and pepper.
  • Spoon onto the serving dishes and scatter with the toasted seeds (or nuts), feta and torn basil leaves.


Interesting techniques used in this recipe:

  • Toasting seeds
  • Stoning olives


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